Reporter’s notebook: Ocean View’s Trauma Links to Tik

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By Leila Dee Dougan

“In Ocean View, everybody is dealing with a lot of shit in that place, it’s rapes, it’s murders, it’s stupid shootings, you can’t look at somebody wrong and they’re going to gang fight you. It’s just one big mess in that place because everybody’s minds is messed up,” one mother said to me.

She’s been on methamphetamine (tik) for a number of years and used the drug during two of her three pregnancies. I met her at a safe house in Noordehoek. Her eyes were puffy from days of crying, and she chain-smoked in a small court-yard beside a sand-pit, empty of children but filled with half-buried toys. She explained that she had fled Ocean View a few days before. Gang members had placed a hit on her, and she had no where else to go. She was scared, shaken and spoke to me for hours about gang violence in Ocean View, her first abortion, corrupt policemen, giving birth while on tik, and raising a child with a drug habit.

Read the story and watch the video here.

In heartbreaking detail, she described the everyday mediocrities of parenthood that went hand in hand with her addiction. She impersonated her daughter “I want my paint and my colours and my papers and my paintbrush and my pencils and my dolls and a party pack.” The strict requirements of her six year old before she could smoke behind the door of her open wardrobe so that her daughter wouldn’t see her. “But they know when their parents are drugged,” she said.

The explosion of tik abuse is not a new story in Cape Town. Nor is the way it tears families apart, with grandmothers, aunties and family friends often left to pick up the pieces when young parents succumb to drug abuse.

There are many angles to this story. But I’ve always been surprised by the lack of reporting that comes from Ocean View.

Situated 45 miles from Cape Town, Ocean View (ironically, there is no view of the ocean) was established after the passing of the Group Areas Act in 1968 as a township for people classified ‘coloured’ during the apartheid era. Those forcibly removed from surrounding areas including Noordehoek, Simon’s Town and Kalk Bay. Wealthy suburbs reserves for white people.

What is often lost in the telling of the individual stories of forced removals is not only the trauma of seeing your home bulldozed, or having all your possessions moved against your will, but the wealth and community support that was taken away in the process. Resources stripped from families, poverty that was forced and re-enforced on an entire race. It’s an extremely important point that has been lost in the punting of the ‘Rainbow Nation’ narrative – the wealth that was stolen by the apartheid government, which has, without a doubt, played a role in the social ills so prevalent in black communities today.

The teacher that I interviewed, Bridgette Truter, said what I had heard a number of times while reporting, “Ocean View is a forgotten community”.

There are two primary schools, one high school, a small shopping complex and a community hall. Jobs are scarce to non-existent. Gang violence is rife. Children are traumatised. Journalists focus on other stories.

I don’t think I quite managed to make the connection that I really wanted to, which is that the social ills in black communities cannot be divorced from the gross human rights violations of the past. Gangsterism, drug abuse, inequality and lack of opportunity is inextricably linked to the segregation, racism and discrimination of apartheid and colonialism. Black poverty, black pain and the breakdown of families and communities will continue to be normalised if the social ills in communities like Ocean View continue to go under-reported, and if the recognition of the physical, psychological and spacial violence of the apartheid era is seen as separate to social and economic injustices we witness (or choose to ignore) today.

Read the story and watch the video here.